The harsh truth is that 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year, that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. In fact, this is most common in the younger generation with 83% being 18 to 24-year-olds, compared to 65% being aged 55 and over. We know that stress can be horrible to deal with, and that’s why we have put together this article. In this guide, we have put together some top tips on how to deal with stress, and how to reduce the symptoms.
What Is Stress?
Stress is defined as a physical, mental, or emotional factor that causes tension in the mind and body. These can be external tensions from the environment, such as social situations, or internal tensions, like illness. When someone experiences these tensions, a chemical reaction occurs in your body, increasing heart rate, blood pressure and speed of breathing. To help you better understand and be aware of when stress is affecting you, we have put together a list of the most common symptoms for both Emotional Stress, Physical and Cognitive Stress.
Emotional Stress Symptoms:
- Becoming easily agitated, frustrated, and moody
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Having difficulty relaxing
- Low self-esteem
- Avoiding others
Physical Stress Symptoms:
- Low energy
- Upset stomach, including diarrhoea, constipation, and nausea
- Aches, pains, and tense muscles
- Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
- Frequent colds and infections
- Loss of sexual desire and/or ability
- Clenched jaw and grinding teeth
Cognitive Stress Symptoms:
- Constant worrying
- Racing thoughts
- Forgetfulness and disorganisation
- Inability to focus
- Poor judgment
- Being pessimistic or seeing only the negative side
Mind: The Mental Health Charity
If you are suffering from any of the symptoms mentioned here, then there is a wide variety of help available for you. One example of this is Mind: The Mental Health Charity. This charity emphasises is for anyone experiencing stress, anxiety, depression or other mental health conditions, and they help you to find a balance between the demands of each day by dedicating time to look after yourself.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
Another option would be looking into CBT. CBT is a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave. CBT involves the patient recording all their day-to-day activities in an attempt to help them take better care of themselves, focussing on body care, achievements, connection and enjoyment.
The 4 Areas Of CBT
This involves how well you have looked after your body. This may include activities like eating and drinking healthy, exercise, relaxation, a good amount of sleep and practising deep breathing. These points may seem like everyday activities for most people, but if you are experiencing stress, you will struggle to fulfil these basic needs.
If you are suffering from stress, you might have the ability to dwell on all the things you didn’t achieve that day, rather than what went well. So, by noting these achievements down, you can help to encourage positivity. Even if these notes are just tasks that have been completed correctly that day, that’s still something to be proud of. Some examples could be making dinner for your family or cleaning to make yourself feel organised.
As hard as being around other people when you feel stressed is, socialising can help to calm you down and help boost oxytocin, a neurotransmitter that boosts feelings of wellbeing and love. The more time you spend with people, the more connections you develop which will reduce those stress levels. Some ways of making connections could be meeting up with/messaging friends, meeting someone new, spending time with your family, or even doing something to help someone else which will link in with your weekly achievements.
Someone suffering from stress will find it difficult to focus on anything other than what needs to get done, rather than taking time to do things they enjoyed before they were stressed. Planning to do something that’s enjoyable can be stressful and overwhelming in itself. However, doing something you enjoy transfers your concentration, and eases the tension in the muscles and heart. For example, an experiment by Mindlab International showed that participants who took on reading as an exercise, had reduced stress levels of 68%. Another effective exercise was listening to music, which reduced stress levels by 61%. Some other things that transfer attention and reduce stress levels could be swimming, watching a film, painting or doing a puzzle. It’s beneficial to note down everything you used to enjoy because it’s difficult to remember what you enjoyed before you felt stressed.
Other Ways Of Reducing Stress
It may not make sense, but physical stress on the body can actually relieve mental stress and frequent exercise can lower stress hormones in the body, releasing endorphins which improve your mood. Exercising in the day can also reduce insomnia; For example, a study showed that exercise reduced time to fall asleep by 55% and total night wakefulness by 30%. However, exercise too close to bedtime can produce too much adrenaline causing you to be too alert to sleep effectively, so try and stick to daylight hours.
Procrastination means you may find yourself scrambling to catch up which will cause stress. This can be avoided by writing to-do lists and giving yourself realistic deadlines that you work through daily.
This can avoid the chemical reaction, fight-or-flight, activating your parasympathetic nervous system instead which helps calm you down.
Some supplements that reduce stress symptoms are:
- Lemon balm – A herb from the mint family used to make medicine, as part of multi-herb combination products or used alone.
- Omega-3 fatty acids – unsaturated fatty acid occurring in fatty fish and fish oils.
- Green tea – tea that is made from Camellia sinensis leaves and buds that have not undergone the same withering and oxidation process than original teas.
- Valerian – A herb which extracts and oil are used as flavouring in foods and beverages
Laughing is healthy for you and it’s hard to feel stressed when you’re laughing. It relieves your stress response and provides relaxation for your muscles which improves your mood in the long term.
Most yoga classes share the goal of joining the body and mind by increasing body and breath awareness. Scientific studies have supported that just 10 weeks of yoga help reduce anxiety and stress. However, some studies are limited so it’s difficult to tell whether yoga on its own is effective enough in achieving stress reduction. Therefore, it may be better to practice yoga in conjunction with other stress-relief methods. For example, the success of laughter studies on blood pressure has led to laughter yoga which intertwines yoga and laughter. This has gone on to be used for a variety of health issues, ranging from stress to dementia.
Do You Need Advice On Stress?
If you feel like you are stressed and are unsure of how to manage your stress levels, then we would highly recommend looking into one of these stress relief methods. Keeping your health at its peak is important! When it comes to physical stress, if it is caused by any difficulties with movement, then we would also suggest looking at our range of mobility aids, or getting in touch with us today. We would be more than happy to help you find the right mobility aid to help with your physical stress. Feel free to contact us via email here or on the phone by calling 01733 342242.